StarNavigator 102 4" Go-to refractor

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This Meade telescope has:

• 102mm f/7.8 multicoated achromatic refractor optics
• light-weight battery-operated DS2000 Generation II computerized go-to altazimuth mount
• AudioStar™ talking computer hand control with 30,000+ object go-to library
• adjustable height tripod with accessory tray
• illuminated non-magnifying red dot finder
• 9mm (89x) and 25mm (32x) modified achromatic eyepieces

    The Meade StarNavigator 102 puts good quality 102mm (4”) aperture refractor optics on an easy-to-use computerized go-to altazimuth mount. It can take you on a guided tour of the best sights in the heavens any night the skies are clear, as well as find and track any of more than 30,000 celestial objects. The StarNavigator 102 provides a well-balanced mix of high contrast optical performance, portability, and computerized convenience at an extremely affordable price.

    The StarNavigator 102’s AudioStar™ computer hand control has Astronomer Inside™ software with over 500 audio files that play through a built-in loudspeaker (which can be turned off at any time, if desired). You get over four hours of information about the astronomical objects your StarNavigator is showing you. Sandy Wood, from the Star Date radio show, describes the planets, stars, constellations, star clusters, galaxies, and more as you view them. It’s like having a professional astronomer standing next to you at the telescope to bring astronomy to life as you observe. The Astronomer Inside™ software knows the sky so you don’t have to.

    For the observer whose interests are the brighter solar system and deep space objects, the StarNavigator 102 has a lot to offer. Its refractor optics provide sharp, high-contrast images of subtle lunar and planetary details. While some spurious color (typical of all achromatic refractors) is visible on the planets and the limb of the Moon, it is well controlled and unobtrusive.

    Outside the solar system, binary star systems and globular star clusters are sharp and well-resolved, typical of the performance of a good refractor, with the contrasting colors of many binary systems showing nicely. Without the light-scattering effect of a reflector’s mirrors and secondary obstruction to contend with, the high contrast of the refractor’s unobstructed optical system lets the brighter nebulas and galaxies stand out nicely against a dark sky background.

This Telescope’s Optical System . . .

  • Achromatic refractor optical system: 102mm (4”) aperture 800mm focal length f/7.8 system using a 2-element objective lens made of Grade-A BK7 crown and F2 flint optical glass. Field stops inside the optical tube prevent off-axis light from reaching the focal plane, enhancing the contrast for sharper and more detailed views. Multicoated optics for high light transmission and contrast.

  • Finderscope: Non-magnifying variable brightness red dot finder with multicoated viewing window for more visible stars. The red dot finder is a quick and easy way to point your telescope exactly to the desired object in the sky. There’s no need to worry about the inverted images you see through traditional finders. Just align the red dot seen on the finder’s viewing window with the desired star in the sky and you’re done.

  • Focuser: Rack and pinion, with a 1.25” accessory adapter.

  • Star diagonal: 1.25” prism type.

  • Two eyepieces: Both are three-element 1.25” modified achromatic designs. The first is a 25mm providing a magnification of 32x. Its field of view is 1.25° across, two and a half times as wide as the full Moon, for expansive views of nebulas and star clusters. The second is a 9mm providing 89x with a 0.49° field for more close-up views of the planets, globular star clusters, plus a full Moon that fills the eyepiece field.

This Telescope’s Mount . . .

  • Fork mount/drive system: Lightweight Generation II DS-2000 single fork arm altazimuth design with pre-installed dual DC servo motor drives. A compartment in the drive base accepts eight user-supplied AA batteries for powering the telescope. The extra-large declination knob is easy to grip and tightens in place with ease, making it easier to adjust the scope’s position.

  • Adjustable height tripod: The preassembled aluminum tripod is adjustable in height to put the scope’s eyepiece at a comfortable level for observing. The tripod’s leg brace has a convenient accessory tray to keep your eyepieces and accessories up and out of the dew-soaked grass. The tray has a built-in holder for the AudioStar™ computer hand control.

  • AudioStar™ computer: The AudioStar™ computer hand control plugs into the telescope’s fork arm to permit a wide array of telescope options, including guided tours of the best objects visible on any night you are out observing. At the push of a button, the StarNavigator’s AudioStar™ computer can find any of the 30,000 deep sky and solar system objects in its database for you, then track it flawlessly across the sky while you observe at your leisure The AudioStar™ can show you celestial wonders galore every night – even if you've never used a telescope before!.

  • AutoStar Software Suite: The StarNavigator comes with the AutoStar Software Suite Astronomer’s Edition – a CD-ROM Windows-based planetarium program for your PC that can display stars and deep space objects on your computer screen – galaxies, nebulas, star clusters, stars, and planets. It lets you explore the universe on your computer when the skies are cloudy and you can’t use your scope. It can print out star charts to use later at the telescope and help you plan your observing sessions. Also included is an instructional DVD that shows you how to set up your scope and get the most out of observing with it.

What you see through the StarNavigator 102 . . .

    All of the major planets are easily observable through the StarNavigator 102. You can study high contrast views of Saturn and its ring system; the primary cloud belts of Jupiter and its four major satellites; the Moonlike phases of Mercury and Venus; prominent features on Mars; and the tiny globes of the distant planets Uranus and Neptune. The Moon stands out in sharp, almost three-dimensional detail – showing you craters by the hundreds, mountain ranges, scarps, and valleys.
Within our Milky Way galaxy the StarNavigator displays hundreds of nebulas, star clusters, double and multiple stars, and variable stars – plus dozens of external galaxies in all their variations of form and structure.
The StarNavigator has 189% more light gathering capacity than the more common 60mm beginning scope, and 64% more than an 80mm scope. This gives brighter and more highly resolved images than is possible with any smaller scope. For the introductory student of astronomy, or for the casual observer, the Meade StarNavigator 102 opens up your skies to an amazing breadth of celestial detail (both inside and outside the solar system) that is utterly invisible without the telescope – and all at a very modest cost for a scope that does all the work for you (and talks to you while it’s doing it).

Highest Useful Magnification:
This is the highest visual power a telescope can achieve before the image becomes too dim for useful observing (generally at about 50x to 60x per inch of telescope aperture). However, this power is very often unreachable due to turbulence in our atmosphere that makes the image too blurry and unstable to see any detail.

On nights of less-than-perfect seeing, medium to low power planetary, binary star, and globular cluster observing (at 25x to 30x per inch of aperture or less) is usually more enjoyable than fruitlessly attempting to push a telescope's magnification to its theoretical limits. Very high powers are generally best reserved for planetary observations and binary star splitting.

Small aperture telescopes can usually use more power per inch of aperture on any given night than larger telescopes, as they look through a smaller column of air and see less of the turbulence in our atmosphere. While some observers use up to 100x per inch of refractor aperture on Mars and Jupiter, the actual number of minutes they spend observing at such powers is small in relation to the number of hours they spend waiting for the atmosphere to stabilize enough for them to use such very high powers.
Visual Limiting Magnitude:
This is the magnitude (or brightness) of the faintest star that can be seen with a telescope. The larger the number, the fainter the star that can be seen. An approximate formula for determining the visual limiting magnitude of a telescope is 7.5 + 5 log aperture (in cm).

This is the formula that we use with all of the telescopes we carry, so that our published specs will be consistent from aperture to aperture, from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some telescope makers may use other unspecified methods to determine the limiting magnitude, so their published figures may differ from ours.

Keep in mind that this formula does not take into account light loss within the scope, seeing conditions, the observer’s age (visual performance decreases as we get older), the telescope’s age (the reflectivity of telescope mirrors decreases as they get older), etc. The limiting magnitudes specified by manufacturers for their telescopes assume very dark skies, trained observers, and excellent atmospheric transparency – and are therefore rarely obtainable under average observing conditions. The photographic limiting magnitude is always greater than the visual (typically by two magnitudes).

Focal Length:
This is the length of the effective optical path of a telescopeor eyepiece (the distance from the main mirror or lens where the lightis gathered to the point where the prime focus image is formed). Focallength is typically expressed in millimeters.

The longer the focallength, the higher the magnification and the narrower the field of viewwith any given eyepiece. The shorter the focal length, the lower themagnification and the wider the field of view with the same eyepiece.

Focal Ratio:
This is the ‘speed’ of a telescope’s optics, found by dividing the focal length by the aperture. The smaller the f/number, the lower the magnification, the wider the field, and the brighter the image with any given eyepiece or camera.

Fast f/4 to f/5 focal ratios are generally best for lower power wide field observing and deep space photography. Slow f/11 to f/15 focal ratios are usually better suited to higher power lunar, planetary, and binary star observing and high power photography. Medium f/6 to f/10 focal ratios work well with either.

An f/5 system can photograph a nebula or other faint extended deep space object in one-fourth the time of an f/10 system, but the image will be only one-half as large. Point sources, such as stars, are recorded based on the aperture, however, rather than the focal ratio – so that the larger the aperture, the fainter the star you can see or photograph, no matter what the focal ratio.

This is the ability of a telescope to separate closely-spaced binary stars into two distinct objects, measured in seconds of arc. One arc second equals 1/3600th of a degree and is about the width of a 25-cent coin at a distance of three miles! In essence, resolution is a measure of how much detail a telescope can reveal. The resolution values on our website are derived using the Dawes’ limit formula.

Dawes’ limit only applies to point sources of light (stars). Smaller separations can be resolved in extended objects, such as the planets. For example, Cassini’s Division in the rings of Saturn (0.5 arc seconds across), was discovered using a 2.5” telescope – which has a Dawes’ limit of 1.8 arc seconds!

The ability of a telescope to resolve to Dawes’ limit is usually much more affected by seeing conditions, by the difference in brightness between the binary star components, and by the observer’s visual acuity, than it is by the optical quality of the telescope.

0.77 arc seconds
This is the diameter of the light-gathering main mirror or objective lens of a telescope. In general, the larger the aperture, the better the resolution and the fainter the objects you can see.
Telescope Type:
The optical design of a telescope.  Telescope type is classified by three primary optical designs (refractor, reflector, or catadioptric), by sub-designs of these types, or by the task they perform.
Based on Astronomy magazine’s telescope "report cards", scopes of this size and type generally perform as follows . . .
Terrestrial Observation:
Observing terrestrial objects (nature studies, birding, etc.) is usually possible only with refractor and catadioptric telescopes, and convenient only when the scope is on an altazimuth mount or photo tripod. Most reflectors cannot be used for terrestrial observing. Scopes with apertures under 5" to 6" are generally most useful for terrestrial observing due to atmospheric conditions (heat waves and mirage, dust, haze, etc.) that degrade the image quality in larger scopes. 
Lunar Observation:
Visual observation of the Moon is possible with any telescope. Larger aperture scopes will provide more detail than smaller scopes, thereby getting a higher score in this category, but may require an eyepiece filter to cut down the greater glare from the Moon's sunlit surface so small details can be seen more easily. Lunar observing is more rewarding when the Moon is waxing or waning as the changing sun angle casts constantly varying shadows to reveal craters and surface features by the hundreds.  
Planetary Observation:
Very Good
Binary and Star Cluster Observation:
Very Good
Galaxy and Nebula Observation:
Terrestrial Photography:
Photographing terrestrial objects (wildlife, scenery, etc.) is usually possible only with refractor and catadioptric telescopes, and convenient only when the scope is on an altazimuth mount or photo tripod. Most reflectors cannot be used for terrestrial photography. Scopes with focal ratios of f/10 and faster and apertures under 5" to 6" are generally the most useful for terrestrial photography due to atmospheric conditions (heat waves and mirage, dust, haze, etc.) that degrade the image quality in larger scopes.
Lunar Photography:
Photography of the Moon is possible with virtually any telescope, using a 35mm camera, DSLR, or CCD-based webcam (planetary imager). While an equatorial mount with a motor drive is not strictly essential, as the exposure times will be very short, such a mount would be helpful to improve image sharpness, particularly with webcam-type cameras that take a series of exposures over time and stack them together. Reflectors may require a Barlow lens to let the camera reach focus. 
Planetary Photography:
Star Cluster / Nebula / Galaxy Photography:
1 year
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  • 102mm aperture refractor optical tube
  • Rack and pinion focuser with 1.25” eyepiece holder
  • 1.25" star diagonal
  • Single-arm fork mount with electric dual-axis motor drives
  • AudioStar™ talking go-to computer hand controller with 30,000+ object library
  • Internal battery compartment accepting eight (user-supplied) AA-size batteries
  • 1.25” 9mm (89x) and 25mm (32x) modified achromatic eyepieces
  • Red dot non-magnifying finder
  • Adjustable height field tripod with accessory tray
  • Dust cap
  • Planetarium software and instructional DVD
  • Operating instructions.
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Meade - StarNavigator 102 4" Go-to refractor

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Meade - StarNavigator 102 4" Go-to refractor
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Our Product #: MSN102
Manufacturer Product #: 20099
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This Meade StarNavigator 102 go-to 4” refractor gives you everything you need to start observing – sharp achromatic refractor optics, motor drives, unique AudioStar™ talking go-to computer, two eyepieces, tripod, and software – all at a low price that’s very affordable . . .

. . . our 36th year